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Beaufort's CJ Cummings smashes American, world records on way to USA Weightlifting men’s national championship

Beaufort's C.J. Cummings sits for a portrait at the Beaufort Middle School weight room on December 10, 2014. Cummings will travel to compete in the American Open. The 14-year-old this year set an American record for his 62-kg weight class. He now competes at 69 kg.
Beaufort's C.J. Cummings sits for a portrait at the Beaufort Middle School weight room on December 10, 2014. Cummings will travel to compete in the American Open. The 14-year-old this year set an American record for his 62-kg weight class. He now competes at 69 kg. THEOPHIL SYSLO

“He’s the strongest kid in America.”

That’s what webcast announcer Jonas Westbrook said of Beaufort 15-year-old C.J. Cummings during his performance Friday night at the at the USA Weightlifting National Championships in Dallas.

Westbrook was a little off. As far as the record books are concerned, for the 69-kilogram weight class, Cummings is the strongest MAN in America.

Ever.

Cummings dominated the competition, winning the snatch, clean and jerk and overall national championships and doing so in American- and world-record fashion.

“Honestly I feel great,” a giddy Cummings said after the competition. “I am just so excited.”

On his third and final clean and jerk attempt of the night, Cummings asked for three red plates on the bar — 175 kg or roughly 386 pounds.

That weight was 1 kg more than the American men’s record set by defending national champion Caleb Williams in 2014 and 2 kg more than the youth world record set by Azerbaijin’s Firidun Gulyiyev at the European Junior Championships in 2011.

Cummings made it look easy.

With the successful lift, he claimed the gold in the overall total — 306 kg (674 pounds) — and broke the American men’s, junior and youth records in the process.

Alex Lee, who finished second in all three categories Friday, held the previous American men’s record at 304 kg.

“It looks like he’s lifting feathers,” Westbrook said of Cummings.

Cummings previously owned the American youth and junior records at 170 kg (375 pounds), set June 8 at the IWF Junior World Championships in Poland.

Team Beaufort coach Ray Jones stressed that, while they wanted to win, the goal is simply for Cummings to continue to top his own personal bests.

“It’s all about what he can control,” Jones said. “You can’t control the things other people do. You take care of yourself. If that kid keeps breaking his personal records, he’s going to be pretty darn good.”

Setting personal bests was just what Cummings did.

The opportunity for him to sweep the three gold medals was aided when judges turned down Lee’s second attempt in the clean and jerk. It appeared Lee’s try at 172 kg was good, but the judges ruled his left elbow wasn’t in the proper position.

So instead of going for the record himself, Lee, 12 years Cummings’ senior, was forced to try 172 again, allowing Cummings to go for it all on the final lift of the competition.

Whether Lee was successful or not, Cummings said, “we were going to play the game and try to go for the win.”

Jones said they didn’t do anything differently than they would have if Lee had made all his attempts.

“I’ve already got numbers in my head that my kid can do, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Jones said. “I see what C.J. can do and that’s what we’re putting on the bar.”

Cummings lifted a personal-best 131 kilograms (288 pounds) to win the gold medal in the snatch.

The lift destroyed Cummings’ own Youth American Record of 125 kg, set at the Junior Worlds in Poland.

“It wasn’t even announced because it happens every time he looks at a bar,” announcer David Boffa said of the record.

Cummings successfully lifted 123 kg in his first lift, then an initial record-breaking 127 kg in his second before the final attempt at 131.

His chief competition in the snatch was Lee, who completed lifts of 125 and 128 kg before failing to lift 132 kg on his final attempt, giving Cummings the title.

Follow sports editor Mike McCombs on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/IPBGsports.

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